on 10 April 2007
This was an absolute joy to play! Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silver Earring was point and click Heaven and The Awakened was a much anticipated further instalment in the casebooks of The Master; it didn't disappoint. It plays in much the same way, with additional 3D graphics. The story takes Holmes and the ever loyal Watson all over the globe, from London, of course, to Scotland, New Orleans and Switzerland. Each area is fairly lengthy for a game of this genre and the many many puzzles range from blindingly obvious to fiendishly difficult. This is definitely a brain workout, should you feel like one.
What I particularly enjoyed were the humorous nods to other great fictional detectives, such as Poirot. (Check out the scene on the train where Holmes runs into a small lad named Hercule...!) There really is some clever word play and incidental plotlines all the way along.
Holmes' closing comments at the end of the game most defintely pave the way for yet another sequel. Can't wait.
Thoroughly recommended for all point and click, Holmes and adventure fans in general.
on 9 February 2008
I would begin to say that this game looks very good- the detail is faultless. London on the period is very well captured and looks better than a film at times. The characters even have shaving rashes.
I liked the Cthulhu theme and cultism- something which works very well and the game is quite scary at times.
Cons: the stages are huge and no matter what the manual says Sherlock almost crawls from scene to scene. This becomes virtually intolerable when not sure what to do and lost you have to deal with the additional annoyance of his clumsy movement and surroundings which are often difficult to navigate through- so many pointless and annoying deadends.
Then the creators had this stupid idea of putting you two stages back if you die in the asylum. That stage seems impossible and after restarting the game as I couldn't work out where the game had thrust me into the past (and ignoring my saves) after I had been killed. Let me just say that even with a walkthrough this part seemed impossible and very unfair.
For some reason Watson trails along with little purpose - He offers no clues, no help, just "what do you make of this Holmes?"
Finally, although with some things the design was first class at times there are too many square-headed people jotted throughout.
on 10 April 2007
The music is quite good, very strongly reminiscent of Call of Cthulhu:Dark Corners of the Earth. The level design is mostly acceptable and quite atmospheric, again reminiscent of that other game, and there are some interesting puzzles using, apparently, realtime mechanics.
The game has some unforgivably bad flaws, however. The representation of the source material, either Doyle's or Lovecraft's, and in particular the historical settings around them is sketchy at best, with frequently glaring errors (Modern American style-fire hydrants in Victorian london? Please.). The levels invariably resemble desolate wastelands, with no crowds or incidental characters whatsoever, even in what should be bustling Baker Street itself in the middle of the day (Watching the newspaper boy, who the game designers evidently didn't even feel deserved a name, shouting about his wares and waving them at an entirely empty street just looks utterly daft). Crowd scenes are difficult even in modern game design, but any attempt at all to solve the problem, even just a handful of generic filler NPCs or static models, would be preferable to just acting as if the problem didn't exist and building the game the way it turned out, which is to say utterly empty. Even worse, and probably even easier to fix than the absence of crowds, is the fact that everything, but everything is spotlessly clean, from the rooftops right down to the cobblestones, in a London that should be crammed with horse carriages and constantly tainted by black, sooty smoke from countless fireplaces and factories. Lazy design, or just plain ignorance, neither is an excuse, expecially since so much obvious effort otherwise went into fancy, bump mapped surfaces with insanely high resolution textures. If I were to attempt deduction like the great Holmes himself, I might suppose the development team was a very mixed bag, some seasoned professionals compelled to work alongside others utterly inexperienced, lazy or incompetent, hence the huge variance of quality between different aspects of the final product. The same seems to apply to the voice actors; Holmes isn't too bad, but pretty much everyone else's speech is horribly stilted. Those supposedly bloodcurdling or scary voices, such as in Watson's dream, are especially flat and unconvincing.
Dr Watson is an especially shoddy bit of programming; unlike every sidekick ever created in a game since the original Sam & Max more than a decade ago, the designers here inexplicably neglected to include an animation of him walking about and following Holmes as he explores. Instead, he stays stock-still whenever in sight, then somehow magically teleports close to you, if you've moved away, as soon as you turn your back on him. Try backing away from him to the other side of the level whilst keeping him in sight, then looking away and back for an instant - bang, he's right next to you! He even once teleported from behind me to the other side of a door even before I opened it. This is not an aspect of the game that is supposed to be creepily supernatural! The icing on the cake is that there is no dynamic lighting on characters at all, which means when Watson invariably follows you into certain pitch dark areas on some maps, such as the docks, he glows away like a supernova against pure black surroundings(Did I mention that the docks somehow seem to be at night time when you "rush" there after getting a lead in the early morning). Pathetic workmanship.
Oh, there are also a couple of brief instances with a rather poor parser interface with knowledge of precious few synonyms. I haven't had to type guessed words as puzzle solutions into a game for a long time, and I haven't had any fun doing it for even longer.
The designers of such a crossover game like this would always have serious challenges to overcome, having two fanbases to please instead of one, finding some way to interlock two very different narrative styles, and so on - incredibly, the creators seem to have avoided these massive difficulties, but utterly failed at a few very trivial ones that competent designers have been able to deal with for years.
on 10 March 2007
I have often found myself wondering why this French studio keep making Sherlock Holmes games; they haven't done any research, care little for the characters and history and include some of the worst puzzles and voice acting I have ever experienced. Then, in the product description, I noticed that 500,000 games have already been sold. That says everything, really. There is no real care or thought behind the games except to cash in on the names created by Conan Doyle over a century ago.
This latest adventure, which I finished in one sitting, sees our 'hero' (wrong eye colour, voice, tone and outfit) hunt for demons in the USA. Now, if you are thinking that doesn't sound very 'Holmes', you'd be right. The game, as it is, is a poor excuse for an adventure, and gives the genre a bad name. There have been quite a few point and click games released these past few months, so I would suggest you seek those out, and avoid this cash-in stinker.